This is my very last KonMari post. I promise.
I mentioned during round one of this whole process that I skipped the digital versions of my photos. Back in fall 2013, I’d spent months with my 25+ photo albums, culling, sorting, and scanning into my computer (see pic <– ). I also did some minimal culling of the previously-existing digital files (pretty much 2006 onwards). When all was said and done, I had over 10,000 photos on my computer. I didn’t mind such a large number. I’ve said in the past that I love photos, and love seeing them as a way of indulging in nostalgia. They aren’t taking up physical space, and I have plenty of digital space. I figured that over the last two years, I’d increased to around 11,000 photos, and didn’t even bother to check.
I should have. Because my friends? I have a problem.
There I was, going through photos. Miscellaneous folder, babyhood folder, childhood folder, high school and college and through the births of my first two children. Right up through the end of 2002, and probably about a third of the way through my picture folders. I’m not sure what made me check – perhaps it was because I was culling much more than expected – but I was surprised to discover exactly how many photos remained: about 12,500. !!! How many photos had I added in the last two years??
Best I can estimate, I’d added something like 4,000-5,000 photos. I don’t know exactly. I don’t know how many I started with. All I know was that those 12,500 that remained were after culling several thousand photos. And I still had everything from late 2002 to present to go through, including three cross-country moves, the birth of my third son, and far more than I can possibly recount in the years going forward. There were significant bumps in the numbers both in 2010 (when I got a camera phone) and 2012 (when I signed up on Instagram). Some years – everything from 2006 onward is separated by years – had around 1,500 pictures! Apparently, I had my work cut out for me.
It took weeks to go through all the files, and would have taken longer if I hadn’t gotten sick in late October. I spent two days going through 2010 to present, deleting 3,500 photos from those almost-six years alone. By the time I was done, I’d culled my photo collection down to 7,500, probably almost half of where it started.
But wait! I wasn’t finished yet! For those who have read Marie Kondo’s book, one of the things she talks about is learning more about what sparks joy as you get more practiced. I’ve practiced culling clothes and books many times, long before this process, but I’ve never really practiced culling photos. As I worked through them, I did get a clearer sense of yes vs no, and realized that with so many photos, I was drowning them all out. With fewer photos, I see more photos. (Hopefully, that makes sense. There were literally photos I didn’t recognize in there!) In any case, I knew that I needed to go back through the early folders one more time.
In the end, I got rid of nearly another 1500 photos, leaving myself with just over 6,000 altogether. Every single one is loved, and full of memories, and brings me joy when it pops up on my screensaver or desktop background. I’m sure I’ll keep taking thousands of pictures each year, but as time passes, those years will be culled out as well, until I’m left with that small center of joy to surround me. And that, my friends, is lovely.